History of Trees in the Park

::::IMG-2314.JPGPart of the charm of Rancho Yolo is the abundance of trees, shrubs and garden vegetation. In the early 1970s, the original owner purchased the stock of a nursery going out of business. The trees and shrubs were transported to the RY parking lot in three tractor-trailers, and offered free trees to residents. This lot contained many types of trees — hence, the large diversity. At that time this represented a significant improvement to the landscape as the property was originally barren.

But, there was no formal planning or consideration of tree suitability, what the landscape would look like in 50 years, long-term tree health possible effect of infrastructure (e.g. water pipes, cement upheaval) and ongoing maintenance requirements. When the trees were very young, these issues did not come to the forefront.
What is the Tree Group?

The Rancho Yolo Tree Group started in the summer of 2018. On a walk one evening, a group of residents began talking about the trees in our park, how beautiful they are, and how they contribute to the enjoyment of life. They talked about what fun it would be to know the names of the different kinds of trees. So the idea came up to put together a guide of single pages that contained the photos, names and some facts about the various types of trees.


1.    Raise awareness of the residents to the vital importance of trees as an critical feature of the Rancho Yolo environment using education and knowledge sharing,

2.    Help preserve and protect trees and other important vegetation in our community,

3.    Encourage actions by residents and management that result in good tree health,

4.    Advance landscaping features that support a sustainable plant community, including native species that are particularly adapted for climate and natural soil conditions.

The Garden Club

Enthusiasm from the Tree Group seemed to naturally expand into learning more about what we could each do with our individual outdoor spaces. The Garden Club was formed out of this interest. Regular discussions are shaped to respond to residents’ needs, curiosities and exchange of suggestions on technical and aesthetic topics.


(Note: This section was copied from information contained in the City of Davis, Community Forest Management Plan, 2002. We saw no reason to re-write something that was so eloquent in its original form. This Plan contains much more informative information on the history of trees in the Davis area and the reader is encouraged to visit this document. Additional history on the pre-1850s tree landscape comes from McPherson and Luttinger (1998) [citations are in REFERENCE section below]).

Native American – Pre Gold Rush

::::1849_sacramento_small.jpgPrior to the arrival of settlers, the Central California Valley was home to Native Americans. The Patwin Indians, lived in the Davis region, migrating toward the Berryessa hills in the winter when the valley floor was flooded and marshy. Significant native trees at that time included the valley oak and coast live oak, willow, cottonwood, alder, box elder, California sycamore, gray pine, California bay, California buckeye, western redbud, and California walnut. The native trees and plants of the region, some of which still remain in the Arboretum and in the town of Davis, were used for food, shelter, basket-making, trading, medicine, and many other daily needs. This community managed the use of the trees and other plants in their native habitat to sustain their lifestyle.

Gold Rush Era

When the Gold Rush Era settlers first came to our region, grasslands covered most of the Valley. Two types of forest communities were present – blue oak woodland and riparian forest. Blue oak woodland was found in upland areas and contained dense stands of blue oak with interior live oak and foothill pine interspersed. Riparian forests extended also river courses found in the bottom, valley lands. Trese included willow and cottonwood. Other trees included black walnut, sycamore and valley oak.

By the early 1850s, and with settlement, many olives, walnuts, almonds, figs and fruit trees  established by the new immigrants. The orchard Industry was also significant and played a key role in the settlement of the region. When initially settled, most towns in the Central Valley planted and established for property boundary definition, shade for the homestead, and for food.


::::photo.JPGThe UC Davis Arboretum was established in 1936, along the original course of Putah Creek, now redirected past town. The Arboretum is an refuge containing very old trees as well as new trees and plants, both native and from around the world.

Tree City

::::IMG_1459-1000x500.jpgThe City first received national recognition for its Street Tree Program by the National Arbor Day Foundation in 1977. Davis continues to receive this annual award as a “Tree City U.S.A.”

Volunteers are important in managing the Davis community forest. Dedicated volunteers have had a significant past and present impact on our urban forest by planting and maintaining public trees and participating in other activities. The non-profit community based group, TREE Davis, founded on Arbor Day in 1992, has grown into a successful organization. The City of Davis Tree Commission act as an advisory body to the City Council, staff and other City agencies.